The largest one-school takeover of the Senior Bowl all-star soccer recreation in contemporary historical past started in January, when 4 remarkable juniors introduced they’d stay taking part in for Utah in 2019.

So it was once no longer sudden closing week when the express-mail deliveries of invites arrived in Salt Lake Town, addressed to defensive linemen Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu, working again Zack Moss and protection Julian Blackmon. The applications saved coming. The additions of linebacker Francis Bernard and protection Terrell Burgess will give the Utes a presence within the 71st Senior Bowl that’s traditionally crowned by means of only a few Alabama and Auburn groups of the 1980s — and that’s factoring in a former regional taste of the sport performed every year in Cell, Ala.

“It is a loaded soccer workforce,” Jim Nagy, the Senior Bowl’s govt director, mentioned of Utah. “There is a ton of ability. … All six of the ones guys earned it.”

The Utes can have a 7th variety in January, as soon as junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson proclaims for the NFL draft, as anticipated. As a school graduate, Johnson can be eligible to play.


When • Saturday, eight p.m. MT
TV • FS1

The Senior Bowl, performed the weekend previous to the Tremendous Bowl, is probably the most prestigious all-star recreation. NFL groups give you the training staffs and the week turns into in essence a professional soccer conference of coaches, scouts and bosses. The development’s theme is “The draft begins in Cell.”

Along with his twenty years of NFL enjoy, Nagy has assembled a national scouting personnel that makes participant variety extra clinical than within the outdated days, in part explaining the Alabama/Auburn quantity of choices within the ’80s. “The purpose is simply to search out the most efficient avid gamers,” Nagy mentioned. “We have now 0 time table.”

Burgess’ invitation stemmed from the Senior Bowl personnel’s finding out movie of Utah’s protection, being conscious about the opposite avid gamers. “Twenty-six began making performs,” Nagy mentioned, mentioning Burgess’ jersey quantity. “That’s the cleanest analysis ever, when a man will get your consideration and also you’re no longer even on the lookout for him.”

Burgess mentioned his variety was once “actually an honor” and Nagy tweeted to him, “No person earned this invite greater than you.”

Utah’s choices for the Jan. 25 recreation are every other signal of the way the entirety converged to make 2019 a landmark season for this system. The No. 7 Utes (9-1, 6-1 Percent-12) have fulfilled expectancies up to now, with possibly extra to come back as they play for a berth within the convention championship recreation, operating towards the Rose Bowl or the School Soccer Playoff.

Moss has change into Utah’s all-time main rusher and the 5 (and doubtlessly six) different invitees anchor a No. 3-ranked protection. Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley should regroup subsequent season; his different senior starters, take on John Penisini and cornerback Josh Nurse, even have excelled.

There’s no longer room for everyone in Cell, however the Utes can be rather well represented a number of the 114 avid gamers within the recreation — extra so than any college since Auburn had 9 avid gamers (six on protection) within the 1988 recreation.

The Utes have despatched 31 avid gamers to the sport in 70 years, by no means greater than two in any magnificence. Fresh individuals incorporated offensive lineman Isaac Asiata, defensive lineman Kylie Fitts, protection Marquise Blair and punter Mitch Wishnowsky.

Six avid gamers in three hundred and sixty five days is exceptional. How did this occur? Smartly, it is referred to as the Senior Bowl, and the Utes have an inordinate collection of seniors as NFL possibilities on this technology. The reality the ones 4 stars regarded as turning professional closing iciness illustrates how such a lot of juniors from premier systems input the draft every 12 months, leaving fewer senior stars to be had.

Bernard’s variety was once no longer utterly surprising, as a result of he had completed sufficient towards the top of closing season as a reserve to create top expectancies. Burgess was once probably the most sudden invitee, as a tribute to his four-year upward push in this system. Outsiders weren’t certain what to anticipate from Burgess this season, after he performed in the back of the likes of Chase Hansen, Corrion Ballard and Blair the former two years.

Burgess is 3rd at the workforce with 55 tackles in 10 video games, together with six tackles for loss, and has an interception and a fumble restoration.

“He has been super this 12 months,” Ute trainer Kyle Whittingham mentioned. “We’ve at all times recognized he was once an impressive participant … He has performed his approach into a possibility to play on the subsequent stage, simply on account of laborious paintings.”

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